It's that time of year. When we gather with fifteen or so friends around a table, drink a few pops and make fun of each other's draft picks. It's a three hour barrage of hockey acumen and cutting insults. I have often referred to the bi-annual draft as being "anticipated as eagerly as a childhood Christmas Eve." This is the sixteenth consecutive year that I have drafted with the same circle of idiots at my work. I have finished second each of the last two seasons in my pool by a grand total of 3 points. Even two seconds have garnered me about $500 bucks. This better be the year I finally break through.
The following are a few of my sleeper picks that I hope can put me over the top.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago
After years of 54, 69 and 68 points most sources are predicting a slight increase to the mid to high 70 point range. I'm thinking more along the lines of mid to high 80's. He and Kane should both use the Cup win as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Prediction 88 pts
David Krejci, Boston
The main man for now, and indefinitely with the Bruins. Some forget he scored 73 points two years ago. I see big things for him and Nathan Horton.
Prediction 70 pts
Brad Boyes, St.Louis
A guy just doesnt go from 65 and 72 points to 42 without the word "fluke" entering the picture. Most sources are expecting some sort of bounce back, but I see the Blues as a darkhouse team, with Boyes leading the way.
Prediction 65 pts
Kris Versteeg, Toronto
After 53 and 44 points with the Hawks, Versteeg gets a first line shot with the Leafs. He appears to have some chemistry with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak. Not the most intimidating top line in the world, but somebody has to score in Hogtown.
Prediction 63 pts
Sam Gagner, Edmonton
Everyone is abuzz about the Oilers rookie trio of Hall, Eberle and Paarjavi-Svensson. People seem to forget that Sam Gagner is only 21 years old himself. I think the youthful mix is ripe for Gagner to have a nice breakout in points from the 40's to at least the 60's.
Prediction 61 pts
Mike Comrie, Pittsburgh
Not a bad gig, getting signed and thrown on a line with Evgeni Malkin. Mind you he hasn't seen the 60 point level since 05/06, but he's still only just turned 30. If he can remain healthy I think a return close to that level is possible.
Predicition 52 pts